Today is the official day to recognise the individuals who have served the USA by putting on military uniforms and (in most cases) going into harms way to preserve our way of life.
As a child I remember looking at the pictures of my dad in his army uniform. My dad served in the European Theater during WWII. While driving a jeep one day a grenade exploded behind his seat. Dad carried shrapnel in his back for the rest of his life. Understandably he always had back issues.
One thing I think most people don’t realize is that during WWII Uncle Sam gave free cartons of cigarettes to those men and women in uniform. I guess they figured they needed something to help calm their nerves. I suppose that there are a number of those same veterans who got hooked on the nicotine who later died on the battle field of lung cancer. But that is complete conjecture on my part.
I, myself, served seven years in the US Navy. I went to Orlando, FL for bootcamp with a friend from highschool but we were almost immediately seperated. I was stationed at Cecil Field, FL, Meridian, MS and Charleston, SC. However, I was mostly in the aviation wing of the Navy and made three cruises on the USS John F. Kennedy (9, 11 & 13 months). There’s something unique about sailing the Medeteranian Ocean with five thousand of your “closest friends.” The squadron I was in was at Cecil Field and we wold go to Norfolk, VA to catch the Kennedy. In fact, the outfit I was stationed with was VA-46. We flew A-7 Corsairs (a single-seater, single engine, attack jet). I worked on the flight deck as the Oil King during the first cruise. However, after being nearly blown overboard by the exhaust of and F4, during night-opps in the North Atlantic, I decided office work would better suite me. Our squadron was involved in the Arab, Israeli conflict in 1973? In fact one of our aircraft was nearly shot down. It received a projectile right in the nose of the aircraft. Twelve inches higher and it would have hit the pilot in the cockpit. Twelve inches lower and it would have gone through the engine. And incidentally VA-46 is the same squadron John McCain served in!
I saw lots of jets crash (on deck, in the ocean, into the arresting nets). I saw a few guys get killed by being careless. In fact I saw a F14 roll off the angle deck during a landing mishap. It floated for nearly 45 seconds before it went under with sidewinder missiles on it. That was an exciting time.
I can still remember all the countries we visited (Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Scotland, Jamaica, Cuba and Crete). Scotland was my favorite because I could understand the language. France was my favorite because of the beaches (hey, I was young and stupid then). I was only eighteen years old the first time we pulled into port in Cannes, France. I never realized that French women didn’t shave their arm pits until on the beach that day a topless girl raised her arm for something. Yikes!!
I’ve been thinking about Buddy and Alexis and little Cooper a good bit lately. Cooper will be four years old on Sunday. He was only three months old when Buddy was killed by that Taliban sniper. If you haven’t read about him here are some links: http://mssc54.wordpress.com/buddy/ Buddy was truly a remarkable young man and would have been the best daddy. If you want a better glimpse of what (some) families go through when those two green uniforms walk up to their front doors I have written about our journey here: http://mssc54.wordpress.com/our-american-hero/ . Without question the most difficult experience(s) my family has ever experienced.
My family is not special, in the sense that we are the only ones who have experienced such sudden and profound grief. There have been hundreds of thousands of families just like ours. Sadly there will, undoubtedly, be thousands more.
Sometimes I think about Buddy and the joys he must be experiencing in his eternal home. On an eternal scale I think that Buddy and those (who believe in the Savior) are the ones who kind of “made out” the best. They (in their eternal home) no longer have to deal with this fallen world.
Just think, there are Veterans right this second who are dealing with profound injuries. Think not only about those Veterans but think of their spouses, children, moms, dads, friends and relatives. Every one of their lives have changed… forever. What would our life be like should we have to be the primary care giver to a profoundly disabled loved one. God bless and strengthen each one of them.
I encourage you, my fellow citizens, seek out your local Veterans. Really, intentionally seek them out shake their hands, ask them if you can visit with them for a few minutes. Sit with them and listen to the story of their lives. Contact the “nursing homes” in your area and ask them if they have any Veteran residents. Forge a relationship with them. Would it be so difficult for each of us to sacrifice thirty minutes of our time once a month for such a noble cause. Bring your children and teach them what it means to go outside of their comfort zones. Teach your children to serve those who have served and sacrificed.
There is one thing that I very often wonder about. I see those yellow magnetic “ribbons” on automobiles that say “Support our troops” or something like that. I wonder what that means to the person behind the wheel of that vehicle.
So I have a couple of questions if you will indulge me, please.
1. What does it mean to you to support our troops?
2. How many of your family members have served in uniform and which branch?
In closing I would like to say THANK YOU to all of our service men and women. And may the Lord, God Almighty not only bless the United States of America but may He bless the multitudes of the world.
Thank you for visiting my ramblings.